Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Blogging at 30,000 ft

The following was written on a plane earlier today.

I’m on my way home from my whirlwind Christmas holidays and realized that I have to do 9 blog postings in the next 2.5 days to achieve my goal of publishing 116 blog postings in 2016. So I figure I better get writing! I have a few year-end blog postings that I typically do that will fill out a number of these, including:

  • Year in Review
  • Items I Knocked Off My List of 101 Things To Do List
  • Books I Read in 2016
  • New Foods and/or Drinks I Made in 2016
  • How Did I Do on My 2016 Goals?
  • Goals for 2017
  • Favourite tweets
  • Nerd Stats 2016

So I just have to write all of those, plus this one, and mission accomplished!

I guess before I get cracking on writing all of those, I can tell you about my whirlwind Christmas holidays! We arrived back at my sister’s after our four days in NYC on the night of Dec 23. Happily, we got in earlier than expected, as we had whizzed through security because we got TSA-Pre clearance so we made it to our gate before the previous fight to Toronto had left and we were able to get three seats on that flight. This meant that we got home before my niece and nephew had gone to bed, so I didn’t have to wait until the next morning to see them!

The next day was Christmas Eve and we woke to pancakes that were made by my nephew, Thomas. He got a cookbook from the school library on the last day of school specifically so he could make those for everyone and they were delicious (I should add that Thomas is 5 and a surprising good cook (and baker) for his age.. with a wee bit of assistance with the stove part). After that, we mostly just lounged around, though I did wrap my presents and about eleventy billion trips were made to the grocery store for various things that we remembered we needed (as the stores would be closed the next day!), each thing being remembered only after the last shopper had returned to the house. I should note that I didn’t make any of those trips because it was cold outside and I am a delicate west coast flower. Christmas Eve dinner was a cornucopia of appies – crackers and breads and spreads and jalapeño poppers and shrimp thingys and chicken fingers and various things wrapped in various pastries and we were all stuff to the gills will deliciousness.

Christmas Day was as Christmas Day should be – awaking early to see what Santa had brought for the kiddies and what everyone had gotten for each other and the biggest winners of the present getting were my niece’s three guinea pigs and my cats. That is not to say that the rest of us were deprived, as we spoiled each other rotten, but the fluffy members of our family got some pretty sweet gifts. My mom made fritattas and a hot potato salad for breakfast (I was supposed to help, but she got up at the crack of dawn while I was still in dreamland1, so my contribution consisted of the sophisticated work of toasting English muffins and crumpets.). My sister made an amazing turkey dinner and for dessert we had individual-sized banoffee pies made by my mother and I (I actually did help make those!) and they might now be on my list of top desserts ever2. There may also have been a PokéWalk3 before dinner for my niece, my nephew, and I, as I figured that I should probably leave the house at least every other day. It was cold, but worth it.

On Boxing Day, we were supposed to go to my Aunt Wendy’s place for an open house, but a combination of icy conditions and that fact that all of us had a pretty nasty cold (that we didn’t really want to give it to the various babies who would be there) kept us away. Boxing Day consisted of lounging, building Lego things, playing various games, and eating our weight in leftovers.

On Dec 27, my mom, sister, and I went to the spa for pedicures (a Christmas present to us from my mom), followed by lunch with my Aunty Eileen and Aunty Lynn. That evening me and Nancy met up with Dr. Dan, Rick, and Rob, another guy we’d all gone to high school with that Dan keeps in regular touch with but who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. We stuffed our faces with Mexican food, drank margaritas the size of our heads4, and then went to another restaurant and stuffed ourselves with more drinks and desserts.

Yesterday Nancy, Jeff, Madeline, Thomas and I went to see Rogue One. I won’t say any spoilers in case you haven’t seen it yet. My mom is not a Star Wars fan, so she stayed back at my sister’s house and made a trip to the bakery, because clearly we hadn’t food shopped enough! That evening, Sarah and Dave and their munchkins came over for dinner. Their munchkins seemed to have a pretty fun time playing with Madeline and Thomas and I had a pretty fun time catching up with Sarah and Dave!

At some point in all of that, Nancy, Jeff, my mom, and I found time to watch the first season (all 10 episodes) of The Man in the High Castle5. Or as we called it “The Man in the High Tower”, “The High Man in the Castle”, “The High Man in the Dark Castle Tower”, and “Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick Holder”6. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out. I can’t wait to watch season 2, which I only just learned existed yesterday.

And now, it what feels like a blink of the eye from when I left, I’m on a plane back home! It’s always so sad to say good-bye to my family, but I am excited to see my kitties. I have a suitcase full of presents for them.

  1. You may notice a trend in this blog posting of my being a lazy SOB on my holidays. []
  2. Alongside chocolate amaretto cheesecake and espresso cupcakes with mascarpone cream. []
  3. Where one goes on a walk for the expressed purpose of catching Pokémon. Yes, I am still playing PokémonGO. []
  4. That may have been just Dr. Dan and I. []
  5. A TV show on Amazon Prime that is based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, in which the Nazis and Japan won WWII and the story is set in a post-war America in which Germany and Japan control the eastern and western parts of North America, respectively. []
  6. For some reason we kept screwing up the name of the show. It started with someone accidentally calling it “The Man in the High Tower”, and then we all started screwing it up like that and it escalated from there. []

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YHZ to YUL to, sadly, YYZ instead of YTZ

I wrote the following on the plane flying from Halifax to Montreal on Tuesday, which, as it turns out, was an unnecessary place for me to go.

On a plane, somewhere between Halifax and Montreal. My flight was delayed, so I’m going to miss my connection to Toronto City Centre – though when I got on the plane they told me I’d be able to catch my connection, but then we sat on the plane at our gate for eleventy billion years and as we were taxing down the runway the pilot casually mentioned that we’d land in Montreal at 8:30 pm (instead of 8:00pm, which was when our flight, with its delay, was going to land)… and my flight to Toronto City Centre leaves at 8:30 pm. Rather wishing that I’d just booked a direct Halifax to Toronto Pearson flight and made my sister drive all the way out there to pick me up – I figured flying into City Centre would be much easier for the pickup – didn’t think about the possibility of delayed flights! The flight attendant assures me that the agent will have already booked me on another flight by the time we land (“It’s her job to do that!”), so I’m hoping that’s actually how it goes!

Don’t really have much to report on my time in Halifax beyond what I wrote in my previous posting – Sunday was really my only tourist day – I spent Monday and today (Tuesday) in the conference that I’d gone to Halifax for1. It was a good conference and my presentation was very well-received, which was awesome. Made some good connections too, so very happy that I went there!
Now I’m looking forward to some time visiting the fam. I haven’t been to Toronto since last Halloween, which is more than half a year! As luck would have it, my nephew’s birthday is in May, so I get to be in town for his 4th birthday party. By sheer coincidence, I happened to be in town for my niece’s 4th birthday, six and a half years ago, so it’s nice that I get to do the same for Thomas’. I’ll just tell them that one’s 4th birthday is the extra special aunt visiting birthday!
It actually looks like I’m going to be spoiled with seeing family & friends over the next few months. I got to see Sarah a few weeks ago in Seattle2, and now I’m visiting Toronto, and then my mom and sister are coming to visit me in June3, and then Daniel and I are going to Montreal to run a full and demi-marathon, respectively, and my Mom (and maybe my sister and her family) and Sarah and her family are planning to come out to Montreal to watch (plus I’ll get to see some of my extended family in Montreal, who are also going to come out and cheer us on). So I’m going from not seeing family for more than half a year, to 4 visits in a 6 month period!
Now I’m writing this next part on Thursday at my sister’s place.
So, after landing in Montreal at 8:27 pm, I went directly to the gate agent to see if my other flight had left (I was hoping that maybe they too had been delayed), and she tells me that that flight regularly leaves 15 minutes early because it’s going to Toronto City Centre and the people in the city like don’t like planes flying there late at night, so to they try to get in as early as they can. But we put you on this other flight” and she hands me a boarding pass for a flight to Toronto. “Wait, this doesn’t say ‘Toronto City Centre,'” I say, “It just says ‘Toronto'”. “Oh yeah, the flight you just missed was the last one into City Centre. You have to go to Pearson.” And then my head explodes.
Seriously. If they hadn’t kept telling me that I’d totally my flight – or even if they’d told me that my flight to City Centre was the last flight of the day to go there and there was a chance I’d not make that flight – I would have just asked them to switch me to a direct flight from Halifax to Pearson. Because the *only* reason I’d booked through Montreal was to go to be able to end up in City Centre, which is way more convenient for me to be picked up, given that it’s in the centre of the city, near to where my sister lives, rather than way out in the boonies like Pearson. And had I done that, at least I’ve have gotten into Pearson at a reasonable hour, rather than at 11 pm. So props to my wonderful sister who went all the way out to Pearson to get me4!
At any rate, I’m here now and enjoying spending some time with the fam. Going for dinner with my friends Jen and Tanya tonight, tomorrow we are doing a belated Mother’s Day high tea and then baking an IronMan cake for my nephew’s birthday, which we will celebrate on Saturday!
  1. I did take some notes from the conference, which I quite enjoyed and learned a lot at, on my “professional” blog (Day 1 and Day 2), but those notes are probably of interest to no one other than me. []
  2. Note written after the fact – I totally thought I’d blogged about that, but now as I’m proofreading this posting before I post it, I looked for the posting and discovered that I never did post about it! []
  3. I have to say that the most exciting part of this upcoming visit is that my mom will get to watch me play hockey live, for the first time EVER! I didn’t start playing hockey until I moved to Vancouver and the times she’s visited in the past, I haven’t had games. She’s seen me play on the Internet, as the Longest Game for CF was streamed online, but she’s never been to a game in real life. I’m very excited for that! []
  4. Apparently they are going to be starting train service from Pearson to Union station, which is long overdue. It will cost $30 a trip, which is a heck of a lot more than a Canada Line Skytrain ride from YVR to downtown Vancouver ($9 – or less if you are exempt from the YVR Add Fare), but also a heck of a lot cheaper than a cab ride from Pearson to downtown Toronto. []

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Obligatory “Leaving On A Jet Plane” Posting

At the airport, waiting for my flight to Toronto. As someone who is small enough to comfortably sleep on a plane, I’m a fan of the red eye. A ~5 hour flight + 3 hour time difference means a daytime flight results in losing a day. A red eye flight means a short night’s sleep which (a) isn’t that unusual for me and (b) makes it easier for me to fall asleep at the appropriate Eastern time.

Wearing this shirt – it’s a test to see how nerdy my seat mate is1.

20140608-220111-79271303.jpg

  1. The security guard found it very amusing – 10 nerd points for him! []

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My Last Vacation Was So Fun, I Think I’ll Have Another. And Another.

Last week I was on holidays to spend time with my mom and my aunt, who were visiting for my graduation. We had a lovely time being Vancouver tourists, doing such activities as:

  • shopping on Robson Street
  • various delicious meals with various delicious wines
  • visiting Granville Island
  • walking along the New Westminster Quay about a million times
  • my graduation
  • dinner with project group from school after graduation at Cioppinos
  • grad party on the Yaletown Keg rooftop patio
  • chocolate tasting at Xoxolat

This week I was back at work. And while I love my job, work has significantly fewer lunches where someone says “Let’s share a bottle of wine” than does vacation, so I’m going back on holidays after tomorrow.

Actually, I’d already planned this second vacation even before all the wine-based lunches of last week. I’m going to a conference in Ottawa the following week and since I had to pay for the flight out east, I figured I should take some vacation time to visit my family. So all next week I’ll be in Toronto, visiting family and friends, getting in some very important aunting time – I haven’t seen my niblings since Christmas! – and, undoubtedly, having more wine-based lunches. Then it’s off to Ottawa, where I’m going to the Canadian Evaluation Society conference. I’m staying with Sarah & Dave while I’m there and I would not be surprised if there was some wine drinking involved.

But lest you think I’m drinking too much wine – do not fear! I’m starting my holidays on Friday night at a craft beer event with Cath. Right after my massage appointment.

And as if my two vacations weren’t enough, just 9 days after returning, I’ll be setting out for a long weekend in San Fran to celebrate Kalev’s birthday! In those 9 days, I’ll be running a half marathon and moving, so I think I’ll  be ready for another vacation!

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On a bus!

Just to mix things up, I’m on a bus instead of a subway today. Off to the Ontario Science Centre to meet up with Sarah and her fam. Because science. I haven’t been to the OSC in a while, but I do remember it being pretty awesome. Because science. I’m sure there will be a blog posting about our science-based adventures in the very near future! Because blogging!

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Ice Storm!

So, there’s been an ice storm in the Greater Toronto Area for the past couple of days. My aunt and cousin who live in Ajax, like countless others in the area, have been without heat and power, as heavy ice has brought down trees and powerlines and crushed cars and all sorts of craziness. We’ve been exceptionally lucky at my sister’s house, as we lost power for only ~10 mins (and that happened before I even woke up this morning). We didn’t go out at all yesterday, as the roads and sidewalks were a skating rink. My mom and I went out to the store this afternoon and we saw some big piles of tree branches that were down and traffic lights down the Danforth weren’t operating and there was tonnes of icy patches on the sidewalk, but overall it’s been not too bad. I forgot my phone when we went out so I didn’t get pictures, but I found some pretty cool pics on Flickr (hooray for people using Creative Commons licenses on their photos!

Dangerous – but beautiful!

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Ice Storm Toronto

ice storm

IMG_4133

Frozen out

Image Credits:

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Drake 150

Went to Drake 150 for dinner tonight, with my friends Jen and Tanya, who I went to high school with a million years ago. Was so nice to catch up with them – it’s been awhile since I’ve been to Toronto, but they are the kind of friends that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, you can pick right back up where you left off like you saw them only yesterday.

As for the restaurant, it was pretty good. Tanya and I had burgers and Jen had a pizza that was as big as her.

The burger was outstandingly delicious. A++, would burger again.

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Running In The Snow

Did an 11 km run today. In the snow. Uphill both ways. Ok, maybe that last part isn’t quite true, though given how hard it is to run in the snow, it may as well be.

I’m at my sister’s place in Toronto for the holidays, but since I’m still in the running study, I have to do my scheduled runs here, where they’ve recently gotten a big pile of snow. I chose to run along main streets in the hopes that the sidewalks would be clear, but that was only true for portions of the sidewalk, while most of the sidewalks were filled with slippery snow. It actually felt a lot like running on a sandy beach – except for the fact that my face was freezing. Between the hard work of running through the snow and the fact that I was being extra careful not to slip, I was a full minute per km slower than my normal pace (!). But I did it, so that’s the main thing.

And speaking of running, I recently checked out my Runkeeper stats for the year and noticed that I’m actually getting somewhat close to my revised 2013 goal of running 600 km. I’d originally set the goal at running 400 km this year, but then I decided that was too easy, so I upped it to 600 km to make it more of a stretch goal. As predicted, I have long ago surpassed the 400 km mark for the year, and I’m actually approaching the 600 km mark. In fact, after today’s 11.37 km, my total for the year stands at 565.5 km! Which means I need to do just 34.5 km more in the next 16 days! The trick here is that I have to follow my running program from the study pretty carefully (or else I’ll mess up the study), so I’m not 100% sure if I’ll get that done. For the rest of 2013, my running schedule includes: a 12.9 km run scheduled for next Sunday, plus a track workout on Tuesday (about 50 mins) and 3 other short runs (30 mins, 40 mins, and 40 mins). For me the track workouts in past weeks have worked out to about 6.5 km and 30 min run is about 3.5 km, so a 40 min run would be about 4.5 km – those latter two are times on the treadmill, which are slower than I am outside in Vancouver, but on par with how fast I ran today in the snow. If we add that all up, we’d get 31.9 km – which is awfully close to the 34.5 km that I need to do. Of course, if I ran my timed runs a bit faster I’d cover more distance and could totally make up that difference. So really, my chance at achieving this goal all comes down to how clear the sidewalks are while I’m here in Toronto! Keep your fingers crossed for no more snowfalls and a lot more people shovelling the sidewalk!

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I am the Honey Boo Boo of the CN Tower Edgewalk

So, for some reason I thought it was a good idea to go to one of the tallest buildings in the world on an extremely windy day and walk around the outside of it with only a couple of ropes keeping me from falling to my death 1,168 ft below. It’s called the CN Tower Edgewalk and it is by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Here we are before walking out to what could have been our doom:

CN Tower Edgewalk

Jeff, Nancy, Dr. Beth, Dr. Dan – the brave1 Edgewalkers! We look like astronauts!

The deal with the Edgewalk is that you get suited up in jumpsuit and harnesses and they secure said harness via ropes and whatnot to a railing that runs around the tower. And they take you on a walk around the tower, stopping along the way to have you put your toes over the edge of the walk way, and lean out over Toronto, both backwards and forwards.

Now, when we first stepped out, and I looked out across the city and down to the ground that was so very, very far away, I immediately thought, “OMG, I’m going to die, I want to turn around and go back!” But I took a few deeps breaths and steeled myself, against my better judgment, and kept going. I was by far the most chicken of the four of us and at several points I thought, “Can this be over now?” But it did get a bit easier the longer I was out there and each time I did the “lean back” over the city, it got slightly less terrifying to me. There were even moments where I was thrilled by the sights – it was super clear, so we could see Niagara Falls & Rochester, NY, in addition to seeing many Torontoian sites2.

CN Tower Edgewalk

One of my earlier “lean backs”. Where I barely leaned back at all because OMG DID I MENTIONED THAT I WAS TERRIFIED??

CN Tower Edgewalk

Dr. Dan, demonstrating a proper leaning back technique.

CN Tower Edgewalk

I freaking love this photo of Nancy & Jeff.

CN Tower Edgewalk

Group lean back!

Jeff said that my reactions of terror made the adventure that much more enjoyable for him. To which I replied, “I made everyone feel that much better about themselves when they saw that they were so much better than I was. I’m like the Honey Boo Boo3 of the CN Tower Edgewalk!”

At any rate, we all survived and I have now been able to cross item #44 off of my list of 101 things to do. Even on my vacation, I can’t help but be productive!

  1. Level of braveness may vary. []
  2. Like Lake Ontario, the RBC Building that is coated in gold, Billy Bishop City Centre Airport, just to name a few. []
  3. Honey Boo Boo, for the initiated, is a “reality” show on The “Learning” Channel about a child beauty pageant contestant from a red neck family in the southern US. The show has great ratings because people like to look at this family and think “They are so trashy” and then they feel better about themselves by comparison. []

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En Route To Montreal

As I write this, I’m on a plane somewhere between Vancouver and Toronto, on the first leg of my journey to Montreal for a 2-day workshop where I will share my research progress with, and learn about the research progress of, other researchers who are in the same funding cohort as me. I had grand plans to put together my presentation1 on this flight, but I have been thwarted by the fact that while I downloaded Prezi Desktop to my computer last night so that I could create a prezi without being connected to the intertubes2, I didn’t realize until I just tried to open it that I need to activate it, which requires the ‘tubes. Instead, I’m writing this blog posting, which I’ll post when I get back to the land of connectivity.

Happily, our profs decided to make our core final exam, which we were originally scheduled to be writing this morning, a take home exam, so I was able finish it up and submit it last night and will be arriving in Montreal at a reasonable time (4 pm) rather than midnight, as I was originally scheduled to when I thought I was going to be writing an in-class exam right now. With the core final exam under my belt, the only thing remaining in the core (read: nightmarishly busy part of the program, as opposed to the just very, very busy part of the program) is a presentation of the business plan projects that we submitted last week. My group has some kickass ideas for our presentation, which are remaining top secret as we don’t want any of the other groups to scoop us!

Looking at my massively complex spreadsheet that I’ve been using to track my grades3, I see that over the past 10 months since my MBA program started, I have completed:

  • 2 major reports4
  • 30 assignments5
  • 4 quizzes
  • 10 exams

No wonder I’ve been so exhausted! Happily, despite the accompanying sleep deprivation and exam-related nightmares, I’ve learned an insane amount about things that I didn’t know before, many of which I can – and already have been – applying in work and in life6.

But enough about that for now – this blog posting was actually supposed to be about my trip! After my workshop in Montreal, I’m hopping a Porter Air flight7 to Toronto to see my family. I haven’t seen them since the spring, so I’m super excited to play with my niece and nephew, spend time with my Mom and sister, and see some friends. Plans for my trip include:

  • belated Thanksgiving dinner8 has been extremely busy, so she didn’t have time to do a Thanksgiving dinner this year. So my Mom and I are taking over my sister’s kitchen to make a feast so we can celebrate T-giving, if somewhat late.))
  • the Hoot & Howl – a Halloween fair at my niece’s school9.
  • the CN Tower Edgewalk10

Plans for Montreal, aside from the actual workshop I’m going to which will take up the lion’s share of my time, include:

  • poutine
  • smoked meat sandwich
  • spruce beer
  • going for a run on the treadmill in the hotel gym, followed by some hot tub time11!

Two other things:

  • At the start of this flight, I fell asleep while holding my coffee and didn’t spill it, which is kind of a miracle. To re-balance the universe, however, after I woke up, discovered that I was precariously holding my coffee, I put down my tray table and put my coffee on it, fell back asleep, only to be woken up when the guy in front of me slammed himself repeatedly against his seat back (presumably “trying to get comfortable”), which spilled my coffee all over me. Fortunately, I had brought a blanket to keep me warm on the flight which I had on top of me, so it took the brunt of the coffee.
  • The lady who is shushing her baby in the row behind me is way more annoying than the baby babbling that she is trying to shush.

Posted from Toronto International Airport, where I’m waiting for my flight to Montreal. Have activated my Prezi desktop so that I can work on my presentation on the next flight. Hooray for free wifi!

  1. I haven’t had a chance to put together my presentation because I was just slammed with a million and one other deadlines at work the past couple of weeks and just slammed with homework in the evenings/on weekends for the past, oh, 10 months. []
  2. Why is it that in 2012 we still don’t have the intertubes on aeroplanes?? []
  3. Even though I said my focus is on learning and that I don’t really care about my grades as long as I pass and don’t look like a total moron, I am compelled to put all data I can get my hands on into spreadsheets, especially data that can be sliced and diced and analyzed every which way! []
  4. Where by “major” I mean reports based on big group projects that lasted a few months each. One was a report on the running of a simulated business, the other was a business plan for an innovative new product. []
  5. 7 of which were case study memos. []
  6. “Stuff I’ve Learned in School” will be the topic of an upcoming blog post! []
  7. Dear FSM, I love Porter Air! []
  8. My sister, who has gone back to school to get her Master’s ((Boy, we are cut from the same cloth, aren’t we? []
  9. Every year I hear about the Hoot & Howl from my sister and I’m super excited that I get to go this year. []
  10. I’m completely terrified but also very excited to lean over the edge of one of the tallest buildings in the world! It kind of makes me want to throw up just thinking about it, but omg, it’s going to be awesome! []
  11. Running will be required to atone for the aforementioned poutine, smoked meat, and spruce beer. And hot tub is just because hot tubs are awesome! []